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nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our website angelina in the conversation on social media sites. >> it is the weekend which means 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books ahead on booktv on c-span2. ..
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>> for a complete schedule, visit >> alan dershowitz talks about becoming a lawyer and the many cases he's handled over the past 50 years. this hourlong program is next on booktv. [applause] >> welcome, everybody. it's delightful to see you all, and remarkable -- in a funny way -- for the two of us to be here, alan. i feel as if you ought to be tutoring me for one of our final exams, which you used to do. we've known each other for over 50 years, as you just heard, and i don't know how that came to be. but you say in your book that
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you were a dreadful student until you went to college. that during elementary and secondary school, you were a disaster. what turned it around? >> i don't know. i wish i knew. in elementary school and high school, i was a c and d student. i have in my book an actual photograph of my senior semester report card with a 60 in physics, red circle around it, 60 in math, red circle around it, 65 in history, and i managed to squeeze out an 80 in english. so i had a 67 average, and i was actually suspended from the varsity basketball team not for athletic defishty, but for -- deficiencies, but for athletic deficiencies. i went to a jewish parochial school, and my principal called me and in and said, you know, you have a big mouth but not much of a brain. you have to figure out something
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to do with your life where you can talk a hot but -- a lot but you don't have to think a lot. you could be a rabbi or a lawyer. [laughter] i wasn't smart enough to be a rabbi, so i became a lawyer. so at age 16 and a half, i was a failure. and by age 17 and a half, i was at the top of my class in brook runs college with straight as. i never got a b. and i think the reason was i didn't change as much as the school changed. i went to a college where anything went. you could ask any question. you could raise any issue. whereas the high school i went to, you were punished, essentially, for raising questions that were heretical. so i really do think that brooklyn college saved me. look, if i had had better grades in high school, you and i would have been classmates because i probably would have tried to get into columbia. i was turned down -- wise
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decision based on my grades -- and i was so lucky that brooklyn college was a free school and had an exam that i took. one person told me i was smart, a camp counselor i had a lot of respect for, told me i was smart. that sunk in and gave me a little confidence. >> you once told me you had two fees for your legal work, outrageous and free. tell us about a case or two in each category. >> yeah. well, i do half of my cases free, and, um, i represented lots and lots of people. for example, i represent soldiers. and first responders. and police officers. people who, in my view, perform an enormous public service but are underpaid. so i have a policy of representing them for free, and in my book "stand your ground," i talk about representing colonel steele, the colonel of
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black hawk down in mogadishu when he was being investigated for creating an atmosphere around which some of his soldiers may have acted irresponsibly. i represented him free, and we got the charged dropped -- charges dropped. i represented a woman some years ago who was locked in a mental hospital, and it was a case where her family was trying to be rid of a nuisance. she came up to me at a book signing and reminded me that i had, quote, saved her life. two young boys on death row who were innocent, their father had committed the murders for which they were sentenced to death. that case took me nine years. ann tolely she ran sky, i represented him. somebody once asked me what my biggest fee was, and they said we didn't know he had any money. he didn't, but when i was able
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to help him get free and return to his wife and family and he whispered in my ear the hebrew blessing, blessed are those who help free the imprisoned, that was the biggest fee i'll ever get. in terms of the outrageous fees, why not? if i'm representing billionaires, why not charge what the going rate is? i use my billionaire cases to fund my poor cases, and it works out. >> you said that the greatest legal blunder of the 20th century was committed by president clinton's lawyer in the paul that jones -- paula jones case, this is roger bennett. >> right. >> could you explain that a little bit? >> yeah. i just to this day not imagine why the president of the united states who had his choice of any lawyer in the country would pick a lawyer who didn't tell him that he had the option not to have to testify about his sex life in the paula jones case. all he had to do was default the
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case. that does not settle the case, but just to to the clerk's office, have his lawyer deposit a check finish $750 which was the amount of the lawsuit, the case is over. but he never told the president that he had that option. he only told him he could either settle the case, the other side didn't want to settle on positive terms, or he would have to litigate. and when i told the president that, he was shocked. he didn't know he had this option. so i called robert bennett on the phone, and i said is it true you didn't tell the president of this third option? he said, absolutely, it's true. why not? he said it would have been a stupid idea. i said, isn't that his decision to make, not your decision? well, that's what robert bennett didn't tell the president, and i think that was the biggest legal blunder. it got the president impeached, it almost got him indicted, and the idea that the president has to testify about his sex life --
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doesn't mean the president should have done it, he wouldn't have had to testify if he didn't do it, but if he didn't testify and simply said that the dignity of the presidency does not permit me to talk about anything private, i think he would have survived. but that's his decision to make. a lawyer's job is to tell the client what the options are. >> in "taking the stand," your new book, you talk about the only crime you've ever committed. [laughter] you want to tell that story? >> well, actually, since i wrote that book, i may have committed another one. [laughter] so let me be very clear, they both involve my sonment my son was 10 years old, and e had a very serious -- he had a very serious brain surgery. he's fine, but he had very serious brain surgery, and he was 10 years old. he recovered very well, and he went back to work. he had always worked selling newspapers in harvard square,
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and one day two thugs came and beat him up for the $3 or $5 he had and peat him in the head -- beat him in the head and knocked a tooth out. then when -- and they were arrested. and when they met in court again or some other time, the two kids came over to my son and said unless you drop the charges, next time we're going to throw you in front of the train. so i saw these kids in harvard square, and i walked up to them, and i mentioned the name of a man i was representing at the time. i was representing him only on a marijuana charge, but he was a notorious hit man for the mob. [laughter] and he killed his clients in particularly brute always. and all i did was mentioned the name of my client and tell these kids how much my client admired me and made it clear to them that if they touched my son again, my client would find out about it. these kids got down on their hands and knees and begged me not to do it.
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i probably committed a crime. [laughter] but the next one was just recently, a i few months ago when -- a few months ago when my son, again, had a problem, went to the hospital. when he got out, he was opening a cab door, i was with him, and a woman was sitting in the cab, and she dropped her bottle of wine and it broke, and my son immediately said, oh, let me pay for it, i apologize. but a man came around and started to punch my son. and here i am, this 75-year-old guy, and i reared back, and i punched him in the jaw, knocked his glasses off, and he ran away. and probably that was assault. not with a deadly weapon, but assault, and i'd do it again in a minute. anybody attacks my children, my loved ones, no matter how old i am, i'm going to respond. hey, i grew up in brooklyn, we were street kids. we learned how to fight back. >> what has been the strangest or perhaps the single funniest moment you've had in court?
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enter well, i won a case once by telling a joke. i was representing the movie i am curious yellow. any of you remember that? you probably watched that on general television today, maybe an r rating. but the man who showed that film was sentenced to a year in yale for showing an obscene -- in jail for showing an on screen film. there >> the judge didn't seem to be getg the argument, and i said -- in chambers we held a little conference, and i said, your honor, maybe this'll make the point. i reminded him of a man who was walking around in year europe, and his watch broke. he saw a store with watches and clocks in the window and went in
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and said, mister, can you fix your watch? fix your watch? i don't fix watches, i perform circumcisionings. then why do you have watches and clocks in your window? the guy says what do you want i should put in my be window? i told the joke, the judge laughed, he got it, and he said, yeah, it really depends on what's in the window and ruled in our favor. that was a pretty strange movement. [laughter] >> you also once told me the story about your father and the argument that you made in i am curious yellow -- that your father had learned something from seeing the film. [laughter] >> you know, it's funny because, generally, when i represent -- i've seen films and, believe me, i've represented my share of them. i've done frontal nudity, backward nudity, upside down nudity. generally, i don't watch the film. for example, i then after i am
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curious yellow, i represented the film deep throat, and i represented the actor harry reames. i p want to make the point to the judge, this is not about the film. this is about choice. i've never be seen an abortion. i've never witnessed gay sex. i favor the right of gay people and every other people to do what they want in the pryce of their home -- privacy of their home. i don't have to see something to think that the state has no right to control it. i've never seen the film deep throat, i have no interest in seeing the film. i have interest in make sure that you don't have to see it if you don't want to, but you can see it if you choose to. so that's the argument when it comes to films. you know, maybe somebody will learn something from a film, maybe they'll learn the wrong thing, but you can learn the wrong thing from reading marx or the bible. >> now, you're a young man be, and you are --
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>> compared to you. i mean -- [laughter] i think you have got six months on me. >> i do. after 50 years only of teaching at harvard law school, this is your last semester. >> right. >> what does your future hold? >> oh, who knows? i don't think of this as a retirement, i think of it as a career change. i've had the same job 50 years. you've been prime minister of a great university -- president of a great university for 20 years, that may be a world record. by the way, steve's new book on presidencies derailed is a brill p i can't book, and it's not only about presidencies, it's about leadership failure, success, it's just a great book. >> thank you. >> and, you know, i think when you get to be our age, you do think about what you would like to do that you haven't done. people asked me all the time is there anything you haven't done? well, if there has been, i want to do it. i'm going to write more books, i'm going to litigate more cases. the only thing i'm not going to
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do is teach. i've taught 10,000 student, and they've ranged from ted cruz on the right to eliot spitzer. now, don't blame me for, you know -- [laughter] i'll take responsibility for eliot spitzer, i'll tell you why. was he worked -- because he worked for me as a research assistant, and he was one of the best i ever had. and he worked so hard. one day i said to him, elliott, you're working so hard, go out, have fun. well, i don't know whether that was the cause -- [laughter] but, you know, i take no responsibility for ted cruz's political views. my job as a professor is not to turn conservatives into liberals or liberals into curs, it's to make them better analytic thinkers. if the you came into my class as a conservative, i want you to leave a smarter conservative, and the same thing is through -- true as a liberal. >> your introduction sets the scene where the autobiographer is set as a witness taking the stand. to extend this metaphor, who do
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you see as the judge and as the juriesome. >> that's a great question. and, you know, in america, of course, the ultimate jury are the american people. our legal system is determined more by what the american people think than what nine judges think. no matter what the supreme court has said about obscenity, cheerily -- clearly, turn on your cable television, go to any video store, go on the internet, and we see that the public has prevailed. you can see anything. you can watch anything. obviously not, hopefully not child pornography because that exploits young children. that's an ongoing crime. but when we're dealing with adults, anything goes. so the people govern in the end. my ultimate jury are the people. the judges, maybe my students, particularly law students. i want law students to read this book. i want them to learn about not only the law, but how to live the passion of your times, how
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not to compromise, how not to look back after the end of your career and say i miss this, i miss that, i miss the other thing. oliver wendell holmes urged people to live the passion of their times. i've tried to do that, and i want to convey those lessons to my judge and jury. >> if i was writing the screenplay to your memoir, pun one thing i would have to establish is the critical moment, the moment in which you became infatuated with the law. of you don't mention that. is there such a moment? >> no. i never, ever thought of doing anything but being a criminal lawyer. all of my life i knew i wanted to argue with people, i wanted to be contentious,, i wanted to be confrontational, in your face. that's who i was. and i think the secret of success, if there is any, is to know what you are, not what you want to be or what somebody wants to make you. the difference between my two clerkships is justice goldberg, who was a great man, wanted to
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remake me in his image. he wanted me to be a supreme court justice. i had no interest in being a judge. judge david babylon wanted me to be myself, and being myself was always being contentious, confrontational. and as you remember from reading the book, i say there are really two characters. there's the dersh character, overtalking the next guy and always trying to get the last word, and then the real alan who never wins an argument with his family, who is a complete and total pushover, who hates confrontation at home or with my friends, and i've tried to live a life that balances the dersh character and the real alan. "the new york times" reviewer who generally gave the book quite a good review said that she wishes more of the book had been written by the real alan rather than the dersh character, and that's an actual fair point. i think mostly the dersh
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character wrote the book. but the dersh character's a much more interesting guy. you really don't want to read about boring al whose wife tells him what to do and whose children boss him around. he's a much more interesting guy, the dersh character. [laughter] >> on a lighter note -- >> do i get a little schizophrenic? [laughter] >> you briefly talk about why jews are overrepresented, and one theory you're pointing at is jews faced welcome discrimination and it was a means of protecting themselves. and following this theory you mentioned that your grandfather contrived affidavits and married his eldest to save jews trapped in germany. could you expand? >> first of all, i don't think so much the jews are overrepresented in the law as
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they're underrepresented in professional football and babble. [laughter] you know, when i was 15 or 16, i'd have much preferred to have been the shortstop for the brooklyn dodgers, but nature didn't point me in that direction. so jews have dominated in parking many parts of the world, least numerically the legal profession. it was true in the former soviet union, it's certainly been ru in the united states. and i think part of the reason is jews are always on trial. we've always been accused. you killed jesus, you were at fault during the inquisition, the dreyfuss affair, you name it, jews have been on trial, and we've needed lawyers. abraham argued with god. i don't think it's in our nature, i think it's partly in the religion. half of jewish law tells you what you can't do, and the other half figures out ways you can get around it. it's like the irs code.
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[laughter] so i think it's quite natural that there are a lot of jewish lawyers. i think this' going to change. i notice now that some of the i can't lawyers now -- dominant lawyers represent racial minorities. women are in a minute figures in the law, latino-americans, asian-americans, to everything there's a season. i don't know whether the season of jewish influence in the law will continue as it has in the past. >> why have you chosen to write this book now? >> 75 years old, 0 years of teaching -- 50 years of teaching, my 30th book. it's 500 pages, i could have written 5,000 pages. i only deal with maybe 5% of my cases. i wanted to write about the first amendment and my views on national security being balanced. it came at the perfect time because i really anticipate the nsa problems, balancing national security with privacy, balancing
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censorship and national security. i wanted to write about how science influences the law. almost all of my criminal cases, i've had 36 cases dealerring with death, either death penalty cases, attempted homicide, all of those kind of cases. and in moat of them i've won -- most of them identify won them by science. to give you one quick example, many of you know the o.j. simpson case, represented a woman named sandy murphy who allegedly killed her boyfriend, a much older, rich man. she allegedly had another younger boyfriend, allegedly killed her older boyfriend by biggerring him to death, that is by come pressing his chest so that his lungs couldn't expand and he couldn't breathe, and the proof was there was a button mark on his body that core responded to the button on his shirt. seemed like very compelling evidence. when i got the case on appeal -- and i'm generally an appellate
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lawyer -- i saw something suspicious, and i had the picture blown up to many, many times its size. i showed it to the chief dermatologist at mass general hospital, and sure enough, he concluded by a look at the structure of the vaips and others in the alleged bruise that it wasn't a bruise at all, it was a benign tumor that had existed well before this incident and, therefore, it proved nothing. and we won the case. we got it reversed. she had a new trial, she won an acquittal. she's now living happily with her two children and running an art gallery and, you know, i want to write about cases like that. i want to write about cases involving the conflict between science on the one hand and public perception. everybody thought she was guilty. after all, she's the woman with the boyfriend, he's the older guy, you know? you think, you think you know it until you look at the science. and the science sometimes can upset some of the most fundamental faiths that people
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have based on what they think is common sense. >> how would you characterize the relationship between lawyers and judges? are there any particular examples you want to talk about? >> well, i can tell you this hour and judges have an often contentious relationship, you know? there's the joke about the angel gabriel calls sigmund freud and said we need a consult, freud, god's having delusions of grandeur, he thinks he's a federal judgement. [laughter] federal judge. and, you know, when you've appeared before as many judges as i have, the arrogance that some of them have -- some of them don't. some of them are very humble. jack weinstein, who's a phenomenal federal judge in new york, doesn't even like to wear robes. marvelous. but you have these pompous judges that think they know everything, and they think they are supposed to control the legal system. and, you know, they're not the best and the brightest often. even the supreme court of the
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united states today, i think, is high mediocre supreme court. it doesn't have very many really, really first rate lawyers on it. the chief justice was a first rate aa pell late lawyer -- appellate lawyer, he's certainly qualified. many of the ores -- others are professor y'all, they're good professors, but when you see some of the opinions that come down, they really lack practical insight as to what happens in the courtroom. this supreme court needs a few real practicing lawyers, particularly practicing criminal lawyers. some who have worked on the defense. there are several form of prosecutors, but judges often are arrogant, they arrogate to themselves what juries should do, and i think it's an unsettling relationship. by the way, treasured be a con chentous -- there should be a contentious relationship between judges and lawyers. lawyers have to defend their clients, and i don't like what i saul sara lee -- call sara lee
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lawyers. i'm not sara lee. a lot of people don't like me, including some judges, and i think it's good that way. >> let me dig into some less controversial areas. do you have any thoughts about the situation in israelsome? >> oh, a really noncontroversial -- thank you for that one. [laughter] yes, i do. look, i think there are three options with iran. or four options. one option is iran gets a nuclear bomb. that is a horrible option to consider. they already have a delivery system that can deliver nuclear bombs to southern europe. they will soon have delivery systems that can deliver nuclear bombs to the united states. they are potentially a suicide nation. one of their leaders, the liberal leader, said, look, if israel were to drop a bomb -- if iran were to drop a bomb on tel aviv and kill two or three million jews, israel would retaliate by dropping a bomb on
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iran, and the trade-off would be worth it because that would wipe out the jewish state, and islam would still survive. people who elect or appoint leaders like that cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons. look, the second worst thing that could happen would be a military attack on iran. the second worst thing. the worst thing is for iran to develop nuclear weapons. the second worst thing that could have happened in the 1930s would have been for england and and france to attack nazi germany in 1935 and 1936. the worst thing was not to attack them and allow them to develop into the most powerful military in the world with tens of millions of people who could have been saved having been killed. so short of those two extremes, there are two other options. one, diplomacy, and i favor diplomacy. i want to seedy proposal si tried. but diplomacy will only work if the sanctions are maintained. so the options include keeping the sanctions. i do not understand the american position that says let's weaken
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the sanctions, let's eliminate some sanctions in exchange for the iranians doing what? nothing. the iranians are saying we won't continue to develop nuclear weapons, we'll have a standstill in exchange for you eliminating the sanctions. it's a dumb negotiating position. we are then put in a position of negotiating from a position of weakness, not strength. i do not want to see a military attack on iran. i do not want to see a war. and the best way to make sure that momentum happen is to make sure -- doesn't happen is to make sure the sanctions are kept in place or increased while we are negotiating. then if you can negotiate a good deal to have them give up their nuclear program, fine, eliminate the sanctions. nobody wants to see unnecessary sanctions. but don't reduce the sanctions until there is a commitment to eliminate their nuclear program. right now we're in a disastrous course. tsa rouse for america, disastrous for the world. the french recognize that, the
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israelis recognize that. many in our state department recognize that, many in our treasury department recognize that. i hope the president and the secretary of state -- pote of whom -- both of whom are friends of mine, both of whom i have tremendous admiration personally -- get to understand you have to negotiate from a position of strength, so keep the sanctions up. don't limit them now. >> what can be done to advance israel's status in the world? >> well, israel should be actoffly engaged in peaced actively engaged in peacemaking with the palestinians. they should not be expanding a settlement building, i believe. i think a two-state solution is the only reasonable solution in the middle east. it has to involve sacrifices on both sides. the end of any right of return for palestinians who would flood israel with people who don't approve of their being a nation-state for the jewish people. eventually, there has to be land
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compromise whereby israel maintains its boundaries at the security border now but exchanges land for land. i think everybody knows what a solution will look like. what we need is the will to bring it about. and i think that there has to be greater will on all sides, triangularly, on the part of israel, on the part of the palestinians and on the part of the united states. i'm on the to mystic. i think this is a good time for a compromise, resolution so that the world can focus on the real problem of the middle east which is iran. >> let me bring this back home. how do we balance our first amendment rights when it comes to issues of national security? >> badly. we don't do a very good job. we overclassify enormously. if you were to look at everything that's classified today, i think you would come to the conclusion 90% of it is designed to protect reputations of incumbent administrators rather than to protect the
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national interests of our country, the legitimate security interests. that's what inspires people like snowden and manning and else burg to do what they did, namely to engage in acts of civil disobedience. we have to start declassifying. we have to keep fewer secrets. we have to make sure that the real secrets -- the names of spies, the locations of safehouses, the important codes to our weapons and to our satellites -- are kept secret. it should be a crime to reveal that information. but the way the espionage laws are written today, it's ash sured. absurd. anything is a secret and everything that's disclosed is a crime. it's actually technically a crime today for the new york times to publish classified information even though they say based on classified sources, we are telling you the following. they boast about it. they brag about it. because we have a policy of not going after the new york times, but the statute permits it. we have to rewrite the national security laws.
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we have to strike a better balance. we have to abolish the fisa court. the fisa court is a disaster. it's not a real court. nothing should ever be called a court when both sides do not have an opportunity to appear in front of it. if you want to have a real court, you have to have a group of lawyers who have security clearance who present the devil's advocate point of view on every national security warrant, who oppose it, who say privacy interests have to trump. political, the right of the people to know have to trump. you have to have both sides presented, hen you can have a balanced judgment by a real court. right now we don't have a real court or a real adversarial process. >> follow up a little bit on snowden and the country ice handling of that issue. >> well, i understand the argument that snowden committed a crime. he did. he took an oath that he would not reveal classified material. he did, and they were published to the great embarrassment and perhaps to some loss of our national security. he may be a hero, but if he's a hero, my view is he ought to
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come back to the united states, stand trial, make his defense in the court of public opinion and in a court of law and take the consequences of civil disobedience the way martin luther king did and the way others starting with john peeter zenger. but to reveal the information in violation of the law and then run away, to me, is not a true sign of heroism. i understand what he's doing, but i think it would be better for everybody if he came back and stood trial. >> why do you think people still ask you about the o.j. case? >> well, you know, o.j. was not a very important case in the annals of law, but it was a very important be case in the annals of racial divide in the united states. it really revealed the racial divide that we thought we had put behind us. people took sides like in the trayvon martin/zimmerman case. today took sides. i think that's why people still ask me about it. you know, when i come to places
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like this people say, you know, i think we're relate 3. when i was doing the o.j. simpson case, even my mother denied being related to me. after of after i mean, it was -- [laughter] i mean, it was really, really a cause of unop lairty. by the way, they didn't hate me during the trial. they said, oh, he's giving a guilty defendant his due process rights. when he was acquitted, oh, my god, you won that case? how could you have done that? well, we didn't win that case. the secret is the prosecution lost it. they did everything wrong. they tried on the glovement -- glove, without knowing that under california law you could have tried the glove on outside the presence of the jury, first, to see if it fit, then to decide whether to do it in front of the jury. chris darden didn't do it. it was done for the first time in front of the jury. whether or not it didn't fit or o.j. didn't make it fit, reasonable people could make
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disagree, you don't try on a glove unless you know it's going to fit. >> people still talk about it, and you still have answers. >> right. >> yeah. let me ask a different question, how has your level of religious observance changed over the years? >> oh, quite dramatically. when i grew up, i was strictly orthodox, strictly kosher. i never even ate a cookie that didn't have a u with a little circle around it that represented rabbinical certification. and something that the dean of the harvard law school kept me coacher an extra three or four years. when i was about 25, he invited me and all the women in the first-year class to dinner, and after going around the table asking all the women why they were taking the place of real men lawyers when they just wanted to come here to meet and marry harvard men -- that was the old days -- let me actually tell you how a harvard professor changed history before i get back to your answer.
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one day, this is a name-dropping alert, name-dropping story. my wife and i, my wife's here today, we invited bill and hillary clinton to come to synagogue with us on martha's vineyard the second year of his presidency, and he came, and hillary came, and we had dipper together afterward, and i asked hillary why she hadn't gone to harvard law school. she said, well, harvard didn't want me? they turned you down? no, they accepted me, but when i went to a dance, i showed letters from harvard and yale to a professor, and he said we have about as many women as we need at harvard, and yale is more suited to the feminine mentality, you ought to go to yale. and as a result of that, she went to yale, she met bill clinton. had she not done that, he would never have been president. so this professor changed history -- [laughter] and we found who it was, he was ultimately on the international court of justice. but harvard was loaded in those days with sexist professors who
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didn't think women were able to think like lawyers. so when i went to dinner at the dean's house, he came to me afterwards and said how come you didn't eat your wife's roast beef? i said, well, i'm kosher. he said, you're still kosher? don't you think you ought to have your people change? i said -- i thought he was vocking. i said, i'll talk to my people. [laughter] about a week later, i saw him in the hall, and i spoke to my people and shay said we've been doing this for 3,000, and i think that kept me kosher for an additional four or five years. eventually, my religious observance changed into, you know, political support for soviet jewelry, for israel, though i disagree you can see with some of its policies. and i became less observant. still go to synagogue time to time, mostly because i enjoy the singing and the nostalgia. but i'm not -- i discovered once
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that i was not a theological person. i was on an airplane taking my son to college. i write about it in my book. and the airplane had to make a crash landing. there was a serious rob on the plane, and we didn't know whether we'd survive or not, and we had 55 minutes before he could unload all the fuel. and in those 55 minutes never once did i think about god, did i make a deal with god. i discovered -- i didn't decide, i involved i was not a theological person. i discovered that god did not play a role in my life, and people say there can't be atheists or agnostics in the foxhole. well, here was one agnostic. i'm not an atheist, but i am an agnostic. i don't know. i write about a prayer i wrote when i was 12 years old. i wrote -- [inaudible] [speaking in native tongue] i'm not sure. why deny, why not try? so i was a doubter.
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i was a skeptic from the time i was a kid, and i didn't want to inflict my parents' religion on hi children. and so instead i've inflicted my skepticism on my chirp, and none of us know what we believe about anything. [laughter] >> how has the crime of rape changed during your tenure as a -- >> the most dramatic change of any crime probably in modern history. when i started teaching and practicing criminal law, the rape laws were scandal. women could not get anything like a fair shot. first of all, you had to have corroboration. the only crime that you needed corroboration. a woman's word was not enough. it's absurd. basically, the law said every woman is a liar. and second, you needed -- there was no rape shield law, so women were questioned about their sexual history. it was terrible. a hand could rape his wife -- a man could rape his wife with
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impunity, and now everything's changed. and it's far easier to prosecute real rapists, and the amount of rape has gone down dramatically, particularly date rape. when i was starting to teach at college, date rape was almost set bl on -- acceptable on some campuses. macho man would brag about their, quote, conquests. today you don't find that on colleges. i think colleges and universities get a tremendous amount of credit for having taken this issue very seriously. they haven't solved the problem, but they've addressed it, and they've improved the situation dramatically. >> thank you. well, i think we ought to try and bring the audience into -- >> sure. >> -- into the conversation. >> hard questions first. >> [inaudible] >> there you go. let's go directly to the second question. here you go, come on up. [laughter] ask the second question. it's hard to get the first question, but the second question's easy. >> hi, i wanted to ask you more
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about -- as a disenfranchised american citizen from puerto rico subject to many injustices for being a second class citizen, among them not being able to vote for president or members of congress, do you think it is time for the supreme court to revisit the supreme -- the insular cases and revoke the antikuwaited plessy v. ferguson-like decisions that were made based on the u.s. territories? >> i don't know if you know in this, but i brought that case. [laughter] >> request okay. >> a few years ago -- >> i did not. >> and we tried to get the supreme court to rethink. i represented a woman who was a u.s. citizen born, however, in puerto rico and, therefore, having -- subject to having her citizenship revoked. we asked the supreme court to take the case. the supreme court has not been willing to take that case. i think you're 100% right. i think there is an equal protection problem, and i think that if we're going to be in
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control of whatever it is of the puerto rico or any other territories, we have to have complete equal rights for all citizens, that includes the right to citizenship, the right to run for president and every other right that a citizen born on mainland united states or hawaii or alaska have. so i'm with you 100%. >> >> thank you. >> sir. >> thank you. i enjoyed your presentation. as an advocate of free speech, i wonder what you think about whether money is free speech. >> oh, boy, what a hard question. the question is -- >> if it's, whether corporations have the same rights as you or i do. >> yeah. >> just as an aside, my namesake who's twice as big as me, mike rosenthal, was a right guard for the new york giants. >> right. oh, yeah. no, no. the, the absurd notion that corporations are people for purposes of free speech, only a lawyer could come up with that one. are robots also going to have of the right of free speech?
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look, when we had malapportionment particularly in the south, cows and trees had more influence than voters in some parts of the country. so, of course, corporations ought not to have the right of free speech. free speech is for individuals, for people. yes, money influences politics. and i think citizens united was a very close and difficult case. the aclu, which is generally a left-leaning organization, was on the side of citizens united and on the side of money being speech. i think reasonable people could disagree about that. what i don't like and i write in my book is jeffrey toobin reports, and he's a good reporter, that john roberts said to somebody that he was voting in citizens united in a way that he thought would help the republican party. when justices vote party lines as they did in bush v. gore and as jeff toobin reports at least one of them did in citizens united, that really puts the
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court into disrepute. and at the end of my book, i predict -- my book's about 100 years, 50 years past, 50 years future. i talk about what i think is going to happen to the supreme court over the next 50 years, and i think it's going to diminish in its influence as it becomes more and more partisan. yeah. >> good evening. as one of your 10,000 students -- >> ah. >> -- i just wanted to say hello. >> hi. >> and i remember, i attended in the late '80s, early '90s, and you used to give me the loving term of rehnquist and henry. my name's henry. when i look back at my three years at harvard law school, your class stands out as one of the most hospitable to conservative viewpoints. rehnquist and henry, i felt comfortable talking in your class. i felt comfortable talking in other classes, too, but i got booed a lot, and i don't get the sense that tolerance at harvard law school has improved any since then.
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we came, obviously, in a very critical time, in a contentious time. obviously, i'm sort of a contemporary of our current president. it was a very unhospitable place for conservatives. i don't get the sense that's changed, and i think now academia in general but even harvard law school is even inhospitable to jewish students where a lot of jew students are fewer in these places. you're considered a zionist, if you're a conservative, you're a racist. if you want to advocate against gay marriage be, for example, you're a racist. everything immediately you get labeled, and you get put an outcast. that was true then, i think it's worse now -- >> well, it's better in some ways, worse in others today, of course, there are many articulate and brilliant conservatives who are prepared to speak out. when i first started teaching, those views weren't expressed. so i had to play the devil's advocate. in my class, i make the case for the death penalty because nobody
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else will even though i'm a lifelong proponent. somebody has to make that argument. so i think the position of conservatives is actually strengthened at harvard law school with the federalist society and other groups like that. on the issue of jews, i don't think it's hard to be a jew at universities today, it's hard to be a jew who strongly supports israel. if you are labeled a zionist, and it's interesting, i write about this in my book, i'm as liberal as you can get on traditional liberal issues, gay marriage, free speech. but because i generally support israel, i'm labeled as a conservative on that issue. and it's absurd. i mean, i support israel from a liberal perspective because i think no country in the history of the world ever faced with comparable threats to its existence has ever had a better record on human rights, has ever tried harder to live within the rule of law. and when you get an idiot like the current foreign minister of south africa who recently said that the paragon of human rights
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is iran and that the pariah of human rights is israel, when you have a foreign minister of a country making an absurd and stupid and bigoted comment like that, you realize the or world has become absolutely topsy-turvy. now, she would be welcome in some universities if she made that statement. but, in fact, there was a great cartoon kilt with steve's -- consistent with steve's book when larry summers lost his job at harvard, there was a cartoon of him saying to the people who fired him, no, no, you misunderstood what i said. i didn't say that women are not qualified to be brilliant in math, that's not what i said. i said israel has the worst human rights record in the world, now can i have my job back? that would have been deemed an acceptable thing to say. so i think that it is hard, harder to be a jew who openly supports israel on college campuses. but in general, particularly at harvard, if you have a little bit of a thick skin and you're
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prepared to stand up and defend your views, you will never be censored or shut down. i tell the story in the book when yasser yasser arafat died, a group of palestinian students came to me and asked them to represent me for flying the flag in the yard. i said i'll represent you, but i'm going to hand out leaflets calling it an untimely death because if he had only died four years earlier, maybe there would have been peace at camp david, and yasser yasser arafat was a horrible, horrible mass murder of jews and others. you're going the hear my views, and that's fine. the flag goes up, my leaflets go out, everybody can present their point of view. some people feel uncomfortable, hey, that's life. nobody ever said the first amendment would make you comfortable. >> thank you. sir. >> another one of your former students from the late '70s. >> great. >> i did not do very well many your course -- >> i don't know that because --
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>> i did work with you on the patty hearst trial. one of my questions is i've done all sorts of law, but one of the things i've done is become more of a community organizer, and -- >> there's a future in that. there's a guy named barack obama who started out that way. >> and what i've seen, and i have a son who's a labor lawyer, is the one difficulty with lawyers and the law and depending on the supreme court and the courts is you become distanced from the clients and the people that are really concerned. >> i agree. >> and i did a lot of prison litigation in the d.c. jails, and i say that if i had actually spent my time organizing the relatives, i would have had more effect on the city government. and i guess if you have any comment on the sort of role in lawyers in changing, in changing things. >> look, lawyers can change the world. and a lot of my students when they come into harvard want to change the world. by the time they get out, they owe $300,000, and the only way to pay it off is to go to work
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for corporations and help the rich become super rich. and not enough students are really permitted to follow their dreams because of the way the legal profession is structured. harvard has a very good program of forgiveness of loans if you go into the public interest. public interest not defined as right and left, but anything that sevens the public interest -- serves the public interest, and i encourage my students. i tell my students in first year criminal law, pay anticipation. statistically, more of you will become criminals than lawyers. and that probably has been the fact over years, and i would like to see more of my students doing what you're doing, so i think you're a row -- role model. >> be it was one of the great courses precisely because you took the contradictory view -- >> okay, this is the last question. >> last question. >> i'm not one of your -- >> not too late. i still have one more semester. [laughter] >> well, i'm reading your book.
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yeah. you note in the book that there's going to be a lot of gay rights in litigation. i wonder what you, um, think about those suits for conversion therapy, if you know anything. >> those are hard. those are such hard cases. first of all, on the issue of pay rights -- gay rights, my grandchildren' generation don't even understand the issue. of course gay people should have complete equal rights. it's one of these issues that i think 30 years from now will be regarded as the same as misonly nation. i think gay rights are going to be thought of an act pronistically in that way. this one a hard case. that is, can a state prohibit doctors, therapists, ministers, ordinary people from trying to convert gay people and make them heterosexual, something which i think is ab knox shows --
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obnoxious and dispick bl. and i think, you know, that's the real lesson that i try very hard to teach in my book. why would i p stand up in support of nazis maaing through illinois? -- marching through illinois? you know, i would hope they would slip on a banana peel and end. but i don't want the state to be doing it for us. i want everything to be free. free speech is not free. free speech is very expensive. all the bill of rights come with enormous costs attached to them. and we have to strike the balance. we strike it in a criminal justice system that if ten guilty go free, then one innocent be wrongly confined. we strike it hopefully in the first amendment area. better ten things that should not have been allowed to be spoken get spoken rather than one be e rope -- erroneously censored. do it with some degree of common sense and proportionality. we're a great country.
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we will survive nazis marching through sew key. we will survive people trying to talk gay people out of being gay. we will survive pornography. we will survive some leaks in our national security. what we would have a hard time surviving is a really oppressive regime. i grew up during mccarthyism. i remember that period very well. i never, ever want to see a repeat of mccarthyism in the united states. so thank you all very much. [applause] what a pleasure. [applause] >> thank you. >> you're watching booktv on c-span2, 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. >> my name is kevin nelson, and
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we are in billing ham, washington. we've been in business for nine years now. we started in 2000. primarily, we use the hiding burg wind mill which is a letter press which that's found in most commercial print shops. they use it for dye cutting and oil stamping, scoring, but we use it for printing. not that many people in modern times use hiding burgs for printing because they're slower, they're, you know, a lot of print shops are using these 40-foot-long, six-tower prosecutions which send out tens of thousands of prints an hour. this is more for meticulous happened work, doing artistic sort of printing. but it's the heart of our business. i think just when you're buying something that's made with so much intention, it just has more
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presence. like if you're sending a card to someone that hasn't been mass produced, that's been handled by an individual, i would hope that it would have more meaning for the perp on the receiving end, that it's made with love. >> there's more from buy son book binding and letter press weekend as booktv and american history tv look at the history and literary life of bellingham, washington, today at noon on c-span2 and sunday at 5 p.m. on c-spanbe 3. c span 3. >> [inaudible] like a suburb of islamabad where ben sirh bhutto had been assassinated, and i thought it was fundamental to go and see the site and speak to the police and speak to witnesses. so we ended up doing that, and in order to avoid the press from following us or anybody that might want us harmed, we decided
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to -- on a ploy putting in our program that we would go at 3:00 the next afternoon, and we ended up going at 5 a.m. in a convoy. and it was all fun and good until we arrived there, and the police put -- located about, you know, two blocks a perimeter so that nobody could access the place where we were. and, but we saw people like two blocks away, and we couldn't find out. and one of the commissioners was a former deputy police chief of ireland told me, you know who they are? i said i don't know, can't distinguish. they're journalists. they are a bunch of journalists with cameras and with telephoto lenses, and somebody had tipped them off. and we thought that we had avoided any undue presence, and they were there.
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the leaking of information wassen constant. that was a tremendous -- was constant. that was a tremendous challenge. and also a government that was very helpful at the beginning because the zardari government had requested this information from the u.n. they received us quite warmly, they provided the 40 gist call support, the security support. but as the promises went on and the commission began to investigate in an independent fashion and asking hard questions and maybe stepping on some toes, we felt increasingly less welcome. and the cooperation was not full. >> uh-huh. >> even on the part of the government. aside from the fact that we faced a lot of individuals and sectors that did not want the investigation and that, obviously, wanted harm for ben
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certificate bhutto. they wanted -- benazir bhutto. those sectors, obviously, were not happy about our presents in pakistan. >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> recently, nielsen book scan, which tracks over 85% of the print book market, released their list of of this year's nonfiction bestsellers. the list reflects sales from december 31, 2012, to december 8, 2013. alex eben tops the list in proof of heaven. followed by bill o'reilly's book, killing jesus. third is "jesus calling." at number four, facebook's ceo sheryl sand berg in "lean in: women, work and the will to lead." coming in at number five in the nielsen book scan's list of nonfiction bestsellers is phil robertson's "happy, happy,
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happy." psi robertson's book with and willie robertson's the duck commander family come in at numbers seven and eight respect ily. rounding out the 2013 nonfiction bestsellers are gary chapman and at number ten the late chris kyle's recount of his years as a navy seal sniper in "america sniper." that's a list of 2013's top ten nonfiction bestsellers according to nielsen book scan. >> kathleen frydl is next on booktv. she reports that contrary to common perception, the war on drugs did not begin with president nixon's pronouncement in 1971, but was a further development of pre-existing initiatives. it's about an hour. ..
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neither i nor any scholar i know of would argue the drug war incarcerate substantial numbers of silver teetotalers with no involvement in the drug trade. obviously the drug boring is in some way tied to drug


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